I grew up with the understanding that the world I lived in was one where people enjoyed a sort of freedom to communicate with each other in privacy, without it being monitored, without it being measured or analyzed or sort of judged by these shadowy figures or systems, any time they mention anything that travels across public lines.
I could fall in love with a sumo wrestler if he told stories and made me laugh. Obviously, it would be easier if someone was African-American and lived next door and went to the same church. Because then I wouldn’t have to translate.
Millions of Americans cannot tell you who lived at Mount Vernon or who wrote the Declaration of Independence – let alone the Emancipation Proclamation. But they know that to be ‘a Benedict Arnold’ is to be a traitor of the deepest dye – someone who coldly betrays not only a sacred cause but every moral scruple along the way.
I had lived all of my youthful dreams, but I couldn’t think of many adult ones. I finally realized that we don’t have many dreams for adults because, historically, people have always died much younger than they do today.
I am not one of those people who believe that MLK achieved more in martyrdom than he could have if he’d lived: imagine what a guiding influence he could have on the world were he still among us.
No one who has lived even for a fleeting moment for something other than life in its conventional sense and has experienced the exaltation that this feeling produces can then renounce his new freedom so easily.
We should be proud of our country when we have done something to be proud of, when we have lived up to our own standards. But the flip side of genuine pride is being able to recognize when we have fallen short, and to hold ourselves to account.
When I lived summers at my grandparents’ farm, haying with my grandfather from 1938 to 1945, my dear grandmother Kate cooked abominably. For noon dinners, we might eat three days of fricasseed chicken from a setting hen that had boiled twelve hours.
That which we have lived is nothing; that which we live is a point; that which we have to live is not yet a point, but may be a point which, together, shall be and shall have been.
I moved up over Lower East Side and I was adopted by eight foster parents; I lived all over New York City with these parents, man, till I was about ten years old.